FARMINGTON – Lifeline for ME Recovery has partnered with the Maine Association of Recovery Residences (MARR) to establish the Summit House, Franklin County’s first recovery residence. The three-bedroom ranch home located in Farmington is capable of housing up to six male residents, and the Summit House’s first two residents moved into the home on February 12.
Lifeline for ME Recovery is a non-profit recovery center that was co-founded by Chief Administrative Officer and Substance Use Disorder Program Manager Amanda Ricci in September 2021. Ricci is also the co-founder of Lifeline for ME LLC, which is their for-profit mental health and substance use disorder agency that provides services such as an intensive outpatient program, adult case management, individual counseling, and more.
“Anyone can walk into a recovery center, whether you have a million dollars in your pocket or three pennies,” Ricci said. “You can go in and you can be treated the same way as anyone else and be connected to the same resources.”
The Summit House is a Lifeline for ME Recovery project that has been certified by MARR, and its mission is to provide residents with a positive, safe, peer-led, and peer-driven environment that supports men in their recovery from substance use disorders and helps them to obtain the recovery capital to live free of chemical dependence.
“You can not move on and work on other things until you have your physiological needs met,” Ricci said. “You need a roof over your head and you need food to eat, and if you don’t have that then you can not effectively work on the other things going on in your life.”
The house currently operates as a level two recovery residence where all residents are required to remain sober, and no medications or treatments are provided. Residents living in the Summit House are also required to pay their own rent, pay for their own food, and they must follow set rules and guidelines. The residents share three bedrooms, as well as the kitchen, living, and dining rooms. Meals are cooked by the residents, and they are also responsible for sharing household responsibilities and providing social and emotional support for one another.
According to Ricci, many people in the community have shared their support and have offered to help the residents in any way possible. One member of the community offered to teach the residents how to garden, so they can learn how to grow vegetables and cultivate their own food. People have also volunteered to take residents to meetings so they are able to attend them in–person rather than virtually.
The Summit House is a men’s only recovery residence, and in order to be eligible to live in the Summit House, potential male residents must remain sober for a minimum of 14 days and are required to participate in recovery activities. There is also an extensive screening process that all potential residents must complete, as they are not accepting any individuals who are on the sex offender registry, or anyone who is a violent offender due to the level of the home and for the safety of the other residents.
“We’re hoping to expand because there is a need for women’s services,” Ricci said. “But statistically, there are more men in need, and more men tend to be incarcerated.”
Ricci also stated that because the house is located in such a rural area, the priority residents are people who are from Franklin County, as well as people who are originally from Franklin County and would like to come back.
“People who are from here have connections, which is really important,” Ricci said. “They have families, and they have a general familiarity with what it’s like to live in a rural area.”
Ricci had originally been looking at the Holman House as a potential location for the recovery residence, which would have been able to house up to 12 residents. She filed an application with the county commissioners for American Rescue Plan Act funds, but her request was tabled due to discourse regarding whether or not the building would be classified as a single-family residence.
Under the current law, recovery residences that are certified by national standards and house no more than two people per bedroom, six people per bathroom, and follow all other applicable housing codes are classified as single-family homes and are not required to install a sprinkler or fire alarm system.
However, Maine State Legislatures have been considering bill LD 109, which seeks to repeal the current law and would require recovery residences to install automatic sprinkler systems. If LD 109 passes, it could potentially result in the closure of 30 certified recovery residences in the state of Maine.
Rather than waiting for the approval of her previous request, Ricci decided to take action and started looking at other potential properties in the area before settling on the Summit House. While the location isn’t in the downtown location Ricci had originally hoped for, it is located approximately 1.5 miles away from the heart of downtown Farmington, close to many of the county’s healthcare and community resources.
“Plans changed and we’re a little bit further out of town than we would like, but we’re going to do whatever it takes,” Ricci said. “We just need to show people this will work.”
For more information on the Summit House, visit the website.